Are you stressing out about getting your family together for the holidays – with all the flying, driving and mixing of families? Well, imagine how much harder it is when your parents are in multiple relationships at the same time. That’s the reality I’ve been dealing with for 17 years.
Holidays should be times of festivities, traditions, relaxing, laughter, joy, reminiscing about the year that flew before our eyes, good food, and celebrating with family. However, being part of a polyamorous family during the holidays has been none of those things. It was stressful and uncomfortable because each of my parents have had other relationships outside of the triad inside their home. I am introverted, shy, and don’t take to new people easily. But year after year, my parents put me around people I had never met before.
Holidays were generally divided amongst mom’s partners and their families, dad’s partners and their families, and their girlfriend’s family, her partners, and their families. Sometimes relationships extended more outwardly, and we spent time with their metamour’s families, too. (By the way, a metamour is a word created to help people get their minds around the confusing relationships involved in polyamory. You can read more about it here.)
One would think by now, where the holidays will be spent would be squared away. In more traditional households, that’s true. Spending it with either set of in-laws, friends, or hosting it at home. It’s not that easy in my parents’ home. No two years have ever been the same.
I’ve tried to be understanding about my parents caring about their relationships with their partners’ families, but they don’t get that Partner A going to his/her grandma’s house every year is not a tradition hat has any emotional linkage to me. I don’t know “Grandma” Adele, and I don’t need to see her every year. They consider their partners’ respective families their in-laws. I don’t consider them my grandparents, cousins, uncles, nieces, nephews, or anything like that. I have real family in the world who want to see me, and every year I ended up around people who only felt compelled to be around me because their kid was dating my parents.
Sadly, we have no “home” traditions, which makes me feel like a traveler and gypsy. I’ve never spent a single Christmas or Thanksgiving at home with my family. We don’t have traditions like opening gifts on Christmas Eve or morning. We don’t hang stockings on the mantle. We don’t go shopping together. We don’t decorate the tree together. We don’t have a sit down lunch or dinner at home. Instead, we spend the days leading up to Christmas traveling all up and down the coast or flying around the world to get to see all these partners and families.
The years where we traveled abroad to visit their partners and respective families were the most unusual. Picture being in a foreign country with a language you don’t understand and being around people you don’t know with foods you’d never eat. I made the best of it by turning each trip into a learning experience. So no, holidays abroad weren’t always awful – as long as I had an escape. I’m blessed to have been able to travel, and I enjoyed learning about new cultures and history. I guess for that I have something I can thank mom and dad for, but it doesn’t change the fact that holidays are usually vacuous wastes to me.
Holidays at home are equally awkward. I’ll start with my parents’ girlfriend’s family. I don’t see them enough to call them my family. I always felt out of place around them. My half-sibling is their bio grandkid, so they dote on her. I felt like the step-grandkid or adopted grandkid who never adjusted. I called my sibling’s grandparents and all relatives, Mr. and Mrs./Miss/Ms. or by their first names. Those were her aunts, uncles, and cousins. They were my parents’ “in-laws,” and it always made me wonder…what did that make me? The kid who was part of a package deal when their girlfriend joined the family. They were cordial towards me, but they don’t call me to hang out, call me on my birthday, or anything of that nature. There’s no one close to my age in their girlfriend’s family. It’s like younger than me or older than me. I never had anyone to talk to during those holidays. Thanks be to the pearly gates that I don’t have to spend another day with them.
Spending Christmas with her partners’ families and her metamours’ families was no different than the ones with my parents’ metamours, partners, and families. Generally, I don’t know much about them, and I have no interest in them. And despite being told that these people were part of my “family,” they disappeared as quickly as they came into our holiday tours. At Christmas with new families I found it best not to get too close, because they generally weren’t around by Valentine’s Day. I got tired of starting to trust those people and then getting let down each time they’d leave my life. It hurt every time, so I just stopped.
Spending time with mom and dad’s families isn’t as easy as one would think. Dad’s family is spread all over the south. There have been times when he wanted to be with them, but mom and their girlfriend’s relationships/tight schedules have kept the whole family from traveling to see them. He was outnumbered by mom and their girlfriend. He was told that he could go by himself, but he wasn’t going to take me or my sibling with him. I’ve heard those arguments many times. It became a round of tug-o-war, arguments, and dad gave in or went by himself. Mom’s family isn’t an option. She cut them off when I was a little over a year old.
What are the holidays looking like for 2013? Divided again. I’ve been branching out and doing what I’ve wanted for the past few years. Mom has four partners right now, and I know she’s going to want to see the local one on Thanksgiving and another for Christmas or the days leading up to or after Christmas. The fourth relationship is with someone who is outside of the US, so they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. That still leaves three people in her life – locally – and conflicts of interest schedule wise with dad, their girlfriend, her other partners, and her partner’s families. The same applies to their girlfriend. Dad isn’t dating anyone else outside of the triad right now. Dad and the sib are probably going to be the only two at home for Thanksgiving and possibly the other two holidays. Their girlfriend has three other relationships. Judging by prior years, she’ll be traveling during the holidays to see the two long-distance loves.
As for me? Things have changed drastically. I’m not living at my parents’ home. I’m spending my Thanksgiving break in Dallas, and my Christmas break overseas with my dad’s mom and some close friends. I work, and I’ve spent the past year saving for this trip. My dad gave consent. I decided to create my own tradition because I wanted something special – outside of my birthday – to look forward to every year.
(Image: getty images)